Cancer patients in Wales to get proton therapy treatment on NHS

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The Rutherford Cancer Centre was the first in the UK to offer the treatment. Credit: Arno Burgi/DPA/PA Images

Cancer patients in Wales will receive proton therapy treatment on the NHS after health boards across the country gave the go ahead.

Previously the treatment, a specialist form of radiotherapy, was only available to private, fee paying patients. Proton beam therapy can target specific cancers very precisely, increasing success rates and reducing side effects.

The Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport has been offering the treatment to private patients since it opened in April. It was the first centre to offer proton therapy in the UK.

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The treatment has been available to private patients since April.

The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee made the decision on behalf of Wales’ seven local health boards. Proton treatment for NHS patients at the Rutherford Centre is expected to start immediately.

Previously NHS patients had been forced to travel abroad to receive the treatment in European and US based clinics. Health Secretary Vaughan Gething welcomed the news “for the benefit of patients in Wales”.

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Rutherford Centres in Reading and Northumberland will open proton beam suites next year.

Professor Roger Taylor at the Rutherford Centre in Newport said the treatment is “beneficial” in certain cancers.

Proton therapy is not a panacea for all types of cancer, however we have seen where it can be beneficial in areas such as brain tumours or cancers of the spine or head and neck, and working with the NHS means that adult patients in Wales will now have an option to be treated closer to home.

– PROFESSOR ROGER TAYLOR, RUTHERFORD CENTRE

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